Young military families often face significant challenges, and few are more common than financial struggles. Navigating the ins and outs of finance can be hard for any family, but coupled with the stress of military life, it can be significantly more difficult. In an effort to help, Holly Petraeus, wife of CIA director David Petraeus, has been traveling to military installations across the country offering financial advice, The Associated Press reports.
Petraeus is well-equipped to offer tips on avoiding financial pitfalls, given her experience being one-half of a young military family with David Petraeus, who served in the Armed Forces for 37 years before taking his post at the CIA. She also directs the Office of Service Member Affairs at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Her most recent trip brought her to Anchorage, Alaska, where she visited Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. She went over the importance of financial education and also discussed being wary of predatory lenders that may take advantage of young families.
"It's about knowing everybody is not out to get you, but you need to know who is," Pfc. George Roberts, a 23-year-old soldier, told the AP.
Petraeus' speeches underscore a larger effort on the part of the Department of Defense to hunt down predatory lenders. Specifically, the DoD called on Congress to work on lessening the amount of payday lenders charging high interest rates. A study from the department found they should be charging no higher than 36 percent.
"Predatory lending undermines military readiness, harms the morale of troops and their families, and adds to the cost of fielding an all-volunteer fighting force," the report states.
The effects of unscrupulous practices have been substantial. According to the DoD, some lenders have raised interest rates as high as 400 percent, and the average payday borrower pays back more than twice the original loan.
Congress has already set the wheels in motion to try to end the practice. Senators Jim Talent and Bill Nelson introduced language into a defense budget bill that would set a ceiling at 36 percent. So far, it has passed the Senate but still needs to clear several hurdles to become law.